Ridiculed in the West, Apple's iOS 6 Maps are instead praised in China

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
While many around the world have slammed Apple's new mapping software in iOS 6, the company has built a special version of Maps for China that has been praised as a "huge improvement over Google Maps," though it lacks some new features due to Chinese laws.

China
Maps in China in iOS 6 (left) are more detailed than the previous Google Maps (right). Screenshots via Anthony Drendel.


Apple's Maps in China are more detailed than competitors thanks to data provided by AutoNavi Holdings, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. It is the most widely used mobile mapping service in china, making navigation systems, virtual maps and satellite images.

However, Apple's special version of Maps in China does not integrate data from TomTom, which is used for mapping data around the world outside of China. As a result, Chinese users who want to look at other countries outside of their own cannot access landmarks or public transit stops.

Apple's unique-to-China maps also lack spoken turn-by-turn directions, or the 3D flyover feature that is available to other worldwide users on the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and new iPad.

Instead, users in China can only access written directions, and satellite imagery for other countries is displayed in black.

The problem comes from the fact that only 11 companies in China have licenses to do comprehensive mapping, according to the Journal. Half of those companies only support the government and do not make commercial-level products.

Citing an unnamed source, Wednesday's report said that integrating AutoNavi apps from China with other data from around the world would be an incredibly complex undertaking, which is why the detailed mapping data is restricted to China.

China
Chinese iOS 6 users cannot access satellite imagery outside of China (as seen on the left). Screenshots via The Wall Street Journal.


Still, user Anthony Drendel wrote on his blog that iOS 6 Maps are "a huge improvement over Google Maps" for the 1.3 billion people who live in China. There, he said, Google Maps "was always pretty terrible."

"In the big cities and tourist centers, it was passable," he said. "once you left China's large metropolises, however, you were pretty much on your own."

But with the use of AutoNavi in China, iOS 6 Maps now have far greater detail than Google Maps provides. Google's hands are tied because the search company is not among the 11 mapping companies authorized by the Chinese government.

"In my experience, the new version of Maps zooms in much further, shows more points of interest, clearly labels banks and cellphone shops (China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom), and gives the locations of ATMs and public restrooms (my original iPad running iOS 6 doesn't show either of those things)," Drendel wrote. "The killer feature, though, is that iOS Maps shows both English names and Chinese characters for everything, whereas Google-powered Maps only shows the English translation."

With the release of iOS 6 last week, Apple officially dropped Google Maps data for its built-in Maps application on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Instead, the company how offers its own in-house solution that users have said is not as good as Google's offering found in previous releases of iOS.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39


    Yes, but considering THIS happened there as well, does anyone really give a damn about China's opinions currently?


     


    http://www.infowars.com/man-crushed-by-road-flattening-truck-on-orders-of-chinese-officials/

  • Reply 2 of 39
    I wonder how many of those 1.3 billion people can actually afford iPhones?
  • Reply 3 of 39
    I've been using iOS 6 maps for 3 days now and have had no problems. Everything has worked great and they are extremely fast. The detail isn%u2019t what Google Maps were but everything where I live is located where it should be.

    I did have an occasion or two using Google Maps and they ended up taking me to incorrect places. Same with my Garmin. It took me to a remote mountain location once and I was lost for an hour.

    Three days isn%u2019t much time using the maps but so far they%u2019ve been perfect for me. Again they are super fast and I%u2019m impressed with the speed in which they find things. The turn-by-turn works great. I%u2019m please with them and they will only get better during the next few months.
  • Reply 4 of 39
    What's interesting to me is that the maps and satellite photos in Apple's maps are lined up, but the Google maps are not (Check Tienanmen Square in Beijing, for example). I was always told that was a rule for mapping in China-things must be slightly off. GPS is also supposed to be slightly off in China, too.

    I used to live in Beijing and that was always slightly annoying, but the fact that it's fixed in Apple's maps makes me wonder who Google angered or who Apple bought...
  • Reply 5 of 39


    Now all Apple has to do is get the iPhone available with the, by far, largest mobile provider in China (China Mobile, has about 650 million subscribers or so) and they might be able to make some hay out of this.


     


    Apple is hoping to ink a deal in the spring of 2013 - they didn't have a phone that worked on the China mobile tech previously (I believe).

     

  • Reply 6 of 39


    Wait a minute, the guy Drendel mentions "my original iPad running iOS 6"???

  • Reply 7 of 39


    Now we know why Timmy Cook was wearing a suit and posing with Chinese bureaucrats not long ago.

  • Reply 8 of 39
    sasparilla wrote: »
    Now all Apple has to do is get the iPhone available with the, by far, largest mobile provider in China (China Mobile, has about 650 million subscribers or so) and they might be able to make some hay out of this.

    Apple is hoping to ink a deal in the spring of 2013 - they didn't have a phone that worked on the China mobile tech previously (I believe). 

    Right around 700 million now. They show 693 million for the end of August and have been adding about 6-7 million per month for awhile now.

  • Reply 9 of 39
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,572member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SalmanPak View Post



    I wonder how many of those 1.3 billion people can actually afford iPhones?


    Does it matter really? That's their problem.


     


    There are plenty of people in this country (USA) who are unemployed/semi-employed or just plain broke and probably can't afford an iPhone either. You don't have to go all the way to China to find people who can't afford an iPhone.

  • Reply 10 of 39
    sricesrice Posts: 114member
    You know, China might have been a big part of why Apple dumped Google maps.

    Google is not going to do well in China -- is not an authorized mapper in China -- and i would be surprised if they would pay for anyone else's mapping data.

    Apple may have decided to build and buy their own mapping services to make iPhone better for Chinese consumers.
  • Reply 11 of 39
    apple wrote: »
    Does it matter really? That's their problem.
    No, it doesn't matter. But when the news is favorable, they change the subject.
  • Reply 12 of 39
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    Right around 700 million now. They show 693 million for the end of August and have been adding about 6-7 million per month for awhile now.

    I have to wonder if they're providing numbers via the Samsung protocol - make them up and don't worry about the errors until you get caught.

    That number means that more than 50% of every single man, woman, and child in China is a China Mobile subscriber. I just have a hard time believing that.
  • Reply 13 of 39
    jragosta wrote: »
    I have to wonder if they're providing numbers via the Samsung protocol - make them up and don't worry about the errors until you get caught.
    That number means that more than 50% of every single man, woman, and child in China is a China Mobile subscriber. I just have a hard time believing that.

    Many countries have over 100% saturation of cellphones compared to the total number of citizens so I don't think 50% for a country that likely has a lot of cheap pre-paid subscribers is enough to question its legitimacy. I'd question it more just because it's China.

    Regardless, the market for iPhones in China seems absolutely immense so I wouldn't be surprised to see the iPhone 5 be announced for early next year for the Chinese New Year (or some other year around that time as there production starts to overtake their ability to sell the device).
  • Reply 14 of 39


    Ahhh, I see. 


     


    So all the work actually went into getting iOS Maps to work right in China first


     


    Clever.

  • Reply 15 of 39
    [VIDEO][/VIDEO]
    salmanpak wrote: »
    I wonder how many of those 1.3 billion people can actually afford iPhones?

    I'm sorry but your lack of knowledge of the world is showing.

    Tens of millions already own iPhones in China and there are hundreds of millions that can afford one. There are now over 230 million Chinese middle class, plus hundreds of millions more young adults living at home that spend a disproportionate amount of their income on "luxury goods" because of their high savings rate and low living expenses. Even China Mobile, on which the iPhone only works on their 2G network due to incompatibility with their 3G standard, has over 15 million iPhone users.
  • Reply 16 of 39
    cash907 wrote: »
    Yes, but considering THIS happened there as well, does anyone really give a damn about China's opinions currently?

    http://www.infowars.com/man-crushed-by-road-flattening-truck-on-orders-of-chinese-officials/

    Please keep your politics off this site. Should we know start a discussion of the number of innocent people executed in Texas?
  • Reply 17 of 39
    "Apple wrote:
    [" url="/t/152885/ridiculed-in-the-west-apples-ios-6-maps-are-instead-praised-in-china#post_2198308"]Does it matter really? That's their problem.

    There are plenty of people in this country (USA) who are unemployed/semi-employed or just plain broke and probably can't afford an iPhone either. You don't have to go all the way to China to find people who can't afford an iPhone.

    Since there is a Free model and a $99 model, not to mention a huge used iphone market, and since they are in fact handheld computers that are much more than a phone, that theory really doesn't hold water.
  • Reply 18 of 39
    jragosta wrote: »
    I have to wonder if they're providing numbers via the Samsung protocol - make them up and don't worry about the errors until you get caught.
    That number means that more than 50% of every single man, woman, and child in China is a China Mobile subscriber. I just have a hard time believing that.

    As an expat living in China I can verify through personal observation and experience that these numbers are valid. It is far easier to get a mobile phone than a landline in China and just about everyone has one. It is also much less expensive to build out wireless infrastructure in developing countries / areas than to put in landlines. Plans are extremely cheap here as are the available phones - my mid-level voice and data plan I use with my iPhone is only $15 USD per month with China Unicom. And there are much less expensive plans available.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cmason View Post


    Wait a minute, the guy Drendel mentions "my original iPad running iOS 6"???



    Perhaps he meant "my first iPad" which is an iPad 2 - not "the original iPad" which of course cannot run iOS 6 - unless there is a jailbreak that allows it. 


     


    I am sure China will allow satellite imagery of more parts of the world, as soon as they are taken over by the Chinese military, hmmm, islands in the south sea was it, and Taiwan, next Japan...


     
  • Reply 20 of 39
    I'm in china and I can confirm one thing apple standard maps show more data than google maps in standard view. But google maps had satellite view in my area whereas apple maps doesn't have satellite view. In fact if I zoom out enough in street view it shows only a big forest.

    So now I know why I couldn't find any 3d flyover view even when I'm trying to look something in US. It's cos they are using autonavi in china and tom tom and others all over the world.
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